Week 1 - Ole Miss at Vanderbilt
Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace
Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace
Posted Aug 29, 2013

Week 1 Fearless Prediction - Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

Ole Miss (0-0) at Vanderbilt (0-0) Aug. 29, 9:15, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: While the SEC might have some marquee matchups this weekend in non-conference play, this one actually matters. Of course something strange could happen, but for all intents and purposes, this is an elimination game in conference action with each team needing to battle and claw to be a part of the bowl season fun.

For Ole Miss, all of the excitement of last season's breakthrough campaign under Hugh Freeze could go bye-bye in a big hurry if it can't avenge last year's thrilling 27-26 loss. In fact, the Rebels have lost three in a row in the series, and a fourth could be deadly with road games at Texas, Alabama and Auburn coming up after next week's SE Missouri State game. After that? Home games against Texas A&M and LSU – a 1-6 start isn't out of the question with a loss in Nashville.

For Vanderbilt under James Franklin, a home loss would be devastating with a road trip to South Carolina coming up next in SEC action.
Why Ole Miss Might Win: Can Vanderbilt hold up if this gets into a slugfest? Ole Miss isn't exactly loaded with veteran depth, but it has more than a Commodore defense, especially at linebacker, that could be vulnerable to a few big plays here and there. What rattles a new starting quarterback? A pass rush, and Vandy will have to deal with one of the best in the country. Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels isn't exactly a newbie, but he'll have to quickly get used to the pressure from all sides from a Rebel D that finished 11th in the nation in sacks and fourth in tackles for loss.
Why Vanderbilt Might Win: The defense should be terrific. Ole Miss will get by on its D and its aggressiveness early on, while the Commodores are good and sound in across the starting 11. Like the Rebels, Vandy should be fantastic at getting into the backfield, and the secondary should be solid at preventing the big play. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has a penchant for giving away a key pick here and there, and Commodore secondary should be able to take advantage.

Who To Watch Out For: Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews was already on his way to a great season before dealing with Ole Miss last year, but he made the year even stronger with nine catches for 153 yards and a score. The 6-3, 205-pound senior came up with a massive season, but now he's a marked man. He's a big-time weapon, but he has to continue to shine with Carta-Samuels throwing his way.

- Matthews was good in last year's game, but Wallace was better. While he might have had problems with picks throughout the year, he was flawless against the Commodores hitting 31-of-49 passes for 403 yards and a score. He also ran for a touchdown. There are rumblings that he's about to bust out and have a big year now that he knows what he's doing, and it has to start here.

- Last year's game turned into a bit of a wild offensive show, but this year might be a bit more low key. The defenses should be ahead of the offenses early on, and mistakes will play a key role. Turnover margin might be the most telling stat.

- Efficiency will be vital for Vanderbilt. Ole Miss has more talent and better athletes, but the Commodores do all the little things right. James Franklin won't let his team's special teams struggle, and be slightly stunned if it's on the wrong side of the penalty ledger.

What Will Happen: It might not exactly be a thing of beauty, but it'll be entertaining. Ole Miss has more offensive pop and is a bit more aggressive defensively. The Commodore ground attack won't work and Carta-Samuels won't be able to come through with the passing game.
Prediction: Ole Miss 26 … Vanderbilt 17
Line: Ole Miss -3 … o/u: 53
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync on the VMAs) … 4